During this period, the courts again took up the Press Law of 1902 and directly imposed prison sentences for crimes against a person’s reputation. While these penalties were mitigated by commutation and suspended sentences, they could have a drastic inhibiting effect on free speech. As a result, self-censorship is pervasive in the country’s newsrooms. The arrest of suspects in the murder of Parmenio Medina Pérez gives some hope that the case will be fully solved through a trial, but the murder of Ivannia Mora Rodríguez opens up a new case requiring vigilance to see that the crime does not go unpunished. On December 23, 2003, journalist Ivannia Mora Rodríguez was murdered by two people on motorcycles who overtook her car as she was driving through the Curridabat area of San José. On December 28, the police arrested a businessman with whom Mora had worked until shortly before her murder, but he was released due to lack of evidence. The facts in the case indicate that her murder was a hired hit. On December 27, 2003, Mínor de Jesús Aguilar, a priest, and Omar Luis Chaves Mora, a businessman, were arrested for allegedly ordering the murder of Parmenio Medina Pérez, a journalist who was murdered by hired killers on July 7, 2001, as he arrived at his house. The two suspects were placed in pre-trial detention, and the prosecution feels certain that it has solved the case. Prosecutors are expected to file formal charges in the coming weeks. Calvo and Mora join three other suspects in the case: Luis Aguirre Jaime, aka “El Indio,” charged with carrying out the murder; Andrés Chaves Matarrita, charged with aiding in the murder; and John Gutiérrez Ramírez, charged with acting as an intermediary between the perpetrators and the masterminds. According to the prosecution, César Murillo, aka “Nicho,” had also participated in the murder, but he was killed by police while attempting to rob a bank along with Aguirre and Chaves Matarrita. On February 20, the Inter-American Human Rights Court notified the parties that it will hold a hearing on April 30 and May 1 to hear arguments in the case of Mauricio Herrera Ulloa, a reporter at La Nación. The verdict against Herrera and La Nación, which was upheld by the Supreme Court on January 24, 2001, found Herrera liable on four counts of publishing defamatory statements against Félix Przedborski, the former honorary ambassador of Costa Rica at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Herrera had reported on questions that the European press had posed to the former ambassador, along with additional information on his actions. Herrera was fined the equivalent of 120 times the daily minimum wage and ordered to pay an additional ¢60 million (about $200,000) in compensation. La Nación was held jointly liable in the case. The newspaper was also ordered to publish the “therefore” portion of the ruling and to eliminate from its online version the links between the name Przedborski and the articles that gave rise to the lawsuit. In the place of those links, La Nación was ordered to create new links between the former ambassador’s name and the orders contained in the court’s ruling of. Meanwhile, the reporter’s name is to be entered in the Judicial Registry of Offenders. In the case, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights argues that “the use of this concept of criminal law is disproportionate and unnecessary in a democratic society and constitutes an indirect restriction on freedom of speech.” It also questions the Costa Rican justice system for holding the journalist responsible for proving his published statements to be true, and describes as an “imposition” the order to eliminate the links between La Nación Digital and the articles on Przedborski and to replace them with links to the orders contained in the court’s ruling. The court’s decision on these matters could have historic repercussions for freedom of speech in the Americas. This is the stance of the IAPA, the Committee for the Protection of Journalists, the Colegio of Journalists of Costa Rica, the Argentine Association for the Defense of Independent Journalism, and prestigious media outlets that have submitted or will submit amicus curiae briefs in support of the commission’s case. On February 21, Gabriela Chaves Pérez, a reporter for Diario Extra, was given a suspended sentence of ten days in prison and ordered to pay 28 million colons in compensation for an article in which she reported on an Internet photograph that had been tampered with to make it appear that the dancers of a popular television program had posed nude. The newspaper reported that the doctored photograph was also being sold on the streets. The judges ruled that the newspaper had told the truth, but that it had harmed the dancers’ reputation by publishing the doctored photograph. On February 23, Marcos Leandro Camacho, a reporter at Diario Extra, was sentenced to thirty days in prison commuted to a fine of ten million colons in compensation, for an article on a community’s dissatisfaction with the principal of a local school. The court censured the reporter for quoting statements by leaders expressing strong criticism of the principal. In a subsequent article, the reporter used facts and statements from previous articles as background. The judges ruled that by citing those items he had made them his own, thereby committing defamation. On March 2, José Luis Jiménez Robleto, a reporter for Diario Extra, was given a suspended sentence of fifty days in prison and ordered to pay seven million colons in compensation for an article on an official at the Joint Institute of Social Aid who was accused of improprieties involving public funds. As of the date of the article, the official had not gone on trial. Her case was subsequently dismissed and she sued the newspaper. The special committee on freedom of speech in the Legislative Assembly is considering eight bills to reform regulations on freedom of speech and the press. It agreed to include a representative of the press in its sessions. The process is slow and the debates are intense, but there is hope that the Commission will issue a report that will mark some progress, even if it falls short of the goals of free speech advocates.